Frugal Parenting: A Trip to the Town Dump with My Daughter

Though here she looks like she had fun at the dump, my daughter is just acting. But I’m hoping some of the lessons stuck with her. I know she won’t forget the smell of the dump!

Will my daughter remember the frugal lessons she learned at the town dump today? 

My 7th grade daughter is doing a project for her health class on recycling. She disclosed to me that she chose the topic because she thought it would be simple. I’m certainly no Tiger Mom, but when she accidentally admitted that, I decided to make this project not so simple for her, but not too hard so she would be turned off to the concept of recycling.

I was thrilled that she took on the project because I want to teach the kids the single-stream method of recycling and have them recycle their own stuff instead of my husband and I plucking recyclable materials and packaging from the wastebaskets in their rooms.

So, I made her sit down to read TFF’s posts on recycling. First up, Aimee’s post on the zero-waste home. Then the rest of the posts on composting, single-stream recycling, etc. Then, I took her to Bea Johnson’s site, Zero-Waste Home, and made her watch videos, etc. She seemed fascinated, but didn’t believe the Johnson’s home was the same size as ours! I told her the Johnson’s home is less cluttered than ours that’s why it looks larger. The trick (especially with me…) is not to sound like a drone about recycling. I figured experience is everything, especially for a kid.

She wasn’t thrilled when she opened the compost bin, but I did see a flicker of excitement in her eyes when she saw that dirt was forming from all the “garbage.”

I made my daughter empty the countertop compost bin into the compost bin outside. I made her turn the pile, which is pretty hard since I don’t have a tumbler. When she was turning the pile, I told her not to swallow any of the fruit flies–then she gave me a dirty look (no pun intended)! She was pretty amazed that there was dirt forming in the bin from scraps of paper, vegetables, fruits, brown leaves, etc. But the whole time she was grimacing over the smell–which is earthy, and definitely not garbag-y, so I chalked her scrunched up nose to middle-school drama queen behavior.

This morning, we went to the town dump before school. I made her dump everything into the bins, had her read the signage on the bins, and took her on a tour of the Green Cycle center (where there are large compost piles of brush dropped off by town residents). Though she was more interested in the animal shelter at the dump (which was closed, unfortunately), she did blurt out that she saw a commercial on tv for Scott’s roll-less toilet paper and she thought that was pretty neat. I think she put two-and-two together when I told her that empty toilet paper rolls are also recyclable.

Though I’m not sure I made the project that difficult for her, I’m pretty certain she’ll remember a few things, like the smell of the dump and the composting bin. I’m hoping she’ll remember where to put her recyclables (in the bins in the garage) and what to recycle. Since kids her age will probably be recycling as a way of life when they are adults, this was at least a start for my 13-year-old girly-girl who rather be on the phone with friends than observing how dirt is being made in the backyard.

She started her day out today at the dump with mom! It was sort of interesting — I told the dump attendant that my daughter is doing a class project on recycling, but he didn’t seem to care much. Oh, well.

I do want to give my daughter credit where credit is due. She loves going to Goodwill to look for cool clothing at a discount, which we’ve posted about here. However, I think I’ll have her empty the countertop composting bin a lot more often now….~Marilyn, TFF

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2 thoughts on “Frugal Parenting: A Trip to the Town Dump with My Daughter

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